5 Best Solar Pool Covers to Trap in Heat

Updated: Jun. 20, 2024

The best solar pool cover keeps your pool or hot tub warm (and clean!) all season long.

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5 Best Solar Pool Covers To Trap Heat InVIA MERCHANT

Whether you have an in-ground pool, an above-ground pool, an inflatable pool or a hot tub, a cover is essential for keeping it clean. Pool covers protect the water from leaves, dirt, debris, insects and even wild animals. Buying the best solar pool cover offers additional benefits, as it uses the sun’s rays to heat the water, ensuring ideal swimming temperatures. These covers, resembling heavy-duty bubble wrap, are designed for maximum heating efficiency.

“It’s a must-have to reduce your heating costs if you own a pool heater or heat pump. It can also be used as a standalone heat source, adding up to 15ºF of warmth with consistent use in sunny weather,” says Greg DeBolt, the talent program leader for pool, equipment, water and technical training at Leslie’s, the largest direct-to-consumer pool and spa care retailer in the U.S. And that’s not all: According to DeBolt, solar pool covers can reduce evaporation by up to 90%, conserving water and saving on chemical costs.

Ready to dive in? Here are the best solar pool covers to keep your backyard oasis clean and comfortable.

Sun2solar Blue 1200 Series Solar Cover via merchant

Best Overall Solar Pool Cover

Sun2Solar Blue 1200 Series Solar Cover

Crafted from durable and ultraviolet (UV)-resistant material, this best solar pool cover from Sun2Solar offers outstanding protection against the elements, keeping your pool water warm and free of debris. Sunlight is about to fully penetrate through, thanks to the translucent materials, creating a natural greenhouse effect that warms up water with maximum heat retention. The bubbled surface traps and transfers solar energy effectively by creating an insulating layer that prevents heat and moisture from escaping.

Using the Sun2Solar solar cover couldn’t be simpler—just place it on top of the water, bubble-side down, and ensure it’s unfurled from edge to edge. Its 16-foot-by-20-foot footprint is large enough to fit most standard rectangular above-ground pools snugly and securely. Built-in grommets help secure the cover in place, preventing wind from blowing it away.

“Wow!!!” writes five-star reviewer, Ira. “All I have to say is that I’ve had the blue pool cover before and it didn’t heat up my pool as fast as the clear cover has heated it up. I would buy it again when needed, and I completely recommend buying the clear pool solar cover. My pool is so very warm and I love it!!!”

Pros

  • Effectively retains heat
  • Reduces water evaporation
  • Saves energy
  • Easy to install
  • Made of durable resin

Cons

  • Some reviewers say it’s a bit thin
  • Options for rectangular and square pools only

Intex Easy Set Solar Cover via merchant

Best Budget Solar Pool Cover

Intex Easy Set Solar Cover

Crafted with durable and UV-resistant material, this high-quality solar cover from Intex provides exceptional protection against the elements. Sunlight passes through its transparent design to create a natural greenhouse effect that heats your pool water in the most energy-efficient way possible. Thousands of small bubbles on the surface maximize heat retention, creating an insulating layer that prevents heat from escaping and water from evaporating.

Using this best solar pool cover is easy and hassle-free. Simply lay it across the surface of your swimming pool, ensuring full coverage from edge to edge—no additional tools required! Built to last for years to come, the Intex solar cover is resistant to fading, deterioration and damage from UV rays.

“My pool when I opened it on May 3rd was 56 degrees. We haven’t gotten any sun recently and my pool is under heavy shade. We just received the solar blanket this week and the pool water rose 10 degrees overnight, and when checked today, the water was 70 degrees. That’s incredible for the fact that no sun was shining on it and it worked simply off of trapping heat and preventing evaporation,” writes Lauren, a verified purchaser.

Pros

  • Wallet-friendly
  • Easy to use
  • Available in multiple diameters
  • Reduces evaporation by 95%

Cons

  • Can blow away in windy conditions

Spa Depot Thermo Float Floating Spa Blanket via merchant

Best Solar Pool Cover for Hot Tubs

Spa Depot Thermo-Float Floating Spa Blanket

The Thermo-Float floating spa blanket is the best solar pool cover for hot tubs, plunge pools and other small, intimate pools. Designed with advanced technology and premium materials, it’s constructed with a 16-millimeter thick layer of durable and UV-resistant material, creating a barrier that helps trap and retain heat. The innovative design features thousands of tiny air pockets that insulate the water, minimizing heat loss and preventing evaporation.

The day we lost power here in Texas for three days cause of the snow, this literally saved our hot tub from freezing the water and possibly messing up the pipes. We honestly recommend this product if you get a lot of snow in your area,” shares five-star reviewer, Joshua.

Pros

  • Can cut down to size
  • Durable construction
  • Easy to install
  • UV-resistant
  • Energy-saving

Cons

  • Not as durable as a hard hot tub cover

Lxkckj Pool Cover Protector via merchant

Best Round Solar Pool Cover

Lxkckj Pool Cover Protector

Designed with premium features and exceptional durability, this pool cover protector is just the thing for round, above-ground swimming pools. Made from sturdy and waterproof silver-coated material, this solar pool cover offers maximum resistance against the elements, animals, leaves and other debris. The silver-coated material is resistant to fading, cracking and UV damage, so you won’t need to worry about replacing it every season.

The convenient drawstring closure system ensures a secure and snug fit, allowing you to tighten the cover effortlessly. The generous size offers full coverage, and thanks to the drawstring, the wind won’t lift or dislodge it. When not in use, this pool cover easily folds up and fits into the included storage bag.

“I bought this cover last year to cover our stock tank pool after daily use,” writes verified buyer, Stephanie H. “It worked great all summer. We had a quick transition into fall and we didn’t have the chance to drain our pool all the way before putting the cover on for the winter. I live in Seattle so we got about 665,577,678 feet of rain during the winter. The top did dip in quite a bit, but after using the sump to get the water off the cover and a net to get the 50 pounds of leaves off, there was nothing but crystal-clear water in the stock tank. I was shocked!!! I was ready for a mosquito swamp and five days of cleaning, but that wasn’t the case at all.”

Pros

  • Available in eight round sizes
  • Highly durable
  • Fits snugly
  • Weighs under 3 pounds

Cons

  • Needs to be staked down in especially severe weather

Ardila Veela Heavy Duty Solar Blanket Cover via merchant

Best Solar Pool Cover for In-Ground Pools

Ardila Veela Heavy Duty Solar Blanket Cover

A large in-ground pool needs a large, rugged cover like this heavy-duty solar blanket. Its sturdy design and reinforced stitching ensure maximum durability, and it’s tough enough to stand up to all sorts of inclement weather. The UV-resistant material prevents this best solar pool cover from fading or cracking. Heavy-duty straps and buckles hold the cover down, and because they’re adjustable, you can always expect a tight and secure fit. For even easier installation, pair it with a pool cover reel.

“This cover fits my solar blanket reel (18 feet) perfectly,” writes Marilyn B., a five-star reviewer. “It fits around the solar blanket when rolled on the reel with extra room and my cover is 40 feet long. It’s lightweight, yet sturdy, and has withstood 60 mph wind gusts during storms. Definitely worth the money. I’ll never use anything different or the plastic covers that come with a solar blanket again. Goodbye, clothespins to hold the cover on the reel.”

Pros

  • Made of durable fabric, not plastic
  • Has adjustable straps
  • Includes heavy-duty buckles
  • Weighs under 2 pounds

Cons

  • Pool cover reel not included

What to Consider When Buying a Solar Pool Cover

When buying a solar pool cover, the first thing to consider is the size and shape of your pool. Make sure the cover matches the dimensions of your pool, and remember to make allowances for features like steps, slides and diving boards. Your solar pool cover should be made of durable and UV-resistant material, such as vinyl or polyethylene, that can withstand prolonged exposure to sunlight without deteriorating.

Additionally, consider how easy it will be to cover your pool when not in use, especially if you do the job solo. “Thicker covers are heavier, offer greater warming power and carry longer warranty coverage, but they also cost more,” says DeBolt. Thinner covers are more affordable, lighter and easier to handle, but they don’t warm the water as much and typically don’t last as long, he adds.

“If you live in a windy area, need more heat in your pool and you’re okay with spending a little extra, a 16-mil cover might be what you need. If you live in a hot climate and are mainly looking for an evaporation barrier to conserve water, you may only want a thinner 8-mil cover,” explains DeBolt.

Why You Should Trust Us

I’m an award-winning writer and author specializing in home goods, kitchen equipment and pet supplies. With nearly 20 years of experience testing and vetting products, I bring a wealth of knowledge to my reviews. As an avid DIYer, I understand the practical aspects of product use. In addition to Family Handyman, my work has been published in the Washington Post, Food & Wine, Bon Appétit and more.

For additional insight into the best solar pool covers, we interviewed Greg DeBolt, the talent program leader for pool, equipment, water and technical training at Leslie’s, the largest direct-to-consumer pool and spa care retailer in the U.S. With 35 years of experience at the company, DeBolt’s extensive knowledge of pool care and equipment provided valuable expertise for our article.

How We Found the Best Solar Pool Covers

We thoroughly researched various options to find the best solar pool covers, considering factors like heat retention, durability and ease of installation. We interviewed a pool expert to get professional insights into the most important features of a solar cover. Additionally, we reviewed customer feedback to ensure our recommendations were based on real-world performance.

FAQ

How does a solar cover work?

Whenever the pool is not in use, place the solar cover on the pool with the bubble side facing down into the water, says DeBolt. The cover forms a solid barrier at the surface, preventing evaporation and keeping the warm water in the pool where it belongs. Once sunlight passes through the cover and reaches the water, it creates a greenhouse effect. The cover prevents the heat from escaping, trapping it inside the pool and helping raise the water temperature.

Solar pool covers feature small air pockets, which help the cover float on the water, transfer solar heat energy into the pool and insulate the water’s surface to reduce the rate of heat loss during cool evenings, explains DeBolt. “Evaporation is the primary source of heat loss in a pool. However, the extra insulation provided by the bubbles can help slow the rate of radiant heat loss,” he adds.

Are solar pool covers worth it?

According to DeBolt, solar pool covers are worth the investment. “In fact, solar covers usually pay for themselves within a year or two thanks to the water, chemical and energy savings they provide. Depending on the size of the pool and the thickness of the cover, solar covers usually cost somewhere in the range of $40 to $350, with most covers averaging around $150,” he says.

How should a solar pool cover fit?

A properly fitting solar pool cover should provide full coverage of the pool’s surface. If using a blanket cover, it should float on the water and extend to the pool’s edges. A cover with a drawstring, straps or grommets meant for above-ground pools should have at least one foot of overhang on each side, if not more, to prevent wind from dislodging the cover. Too much overhang, however, could cause the cover to sag, so ensure it’s tightened securely. It should also be taut across the pool’s surface to ensure a snug fit and smoothed flat to maximize heat absorption and reduce evaporation.

Can you run a pool pump with a solar cover on?

Yes, you can run a pool pump with a solar cover on it. A pool pump will help evenly distribute the heated water while the cover is on, ensuring that warm water reaches all pool areas.